Merck Manual

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Some Causes and Features of Bulging Eyes

Some Causes and Features of Bulging Eyes


Common Features*


Eye symptoms: Pain, watering, dryness, irritation, sensitivity to light, double vision, and loss of vision

Usually affecting both eyes

General symptoms: Palpitations, anxiety, increased appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, inability to tolerate heat, increased sweating, and insomnia

Blood tests to evaluate thyroid gland function

Sometimes CT or MRI

Orbital cellulitis (infection of the tissue within the eye socket, or orbit)

Affecting only one eye

Eye redness, pain deep within the eye, pain when moving the eye, and aches in and around the eye

Red and swollen eyelids

Inability to fully move the eye in all directions

Impaired vision or loss of vision


Sometimes preceded by symptoms of sinusitis


A mass in the eye socket such as a tumor (cancerous or not) or blood vessel malformation

Loss of or a decrease in vision and pain in one eye

Sometimes double vision or headache


Retrobulbar hemorrhage (bleeding in the eye socket)

Usually affecting only one eye

Symptoms that begin suddenly

Loss of vision, double vision, and eye pain

In people who have recently had eye surgery or an eye injury or who have a bleeding disorder

CT or treatment done immediately

* Features include symptoms and the results of the doctor's examination. Features mentioned are typical but not always present.

CT = computed tomography; MRI = magnetic resonance imaging.